Jim Trout, president of Acme Fresh Market, is stepping down Friday as president of the grocery store chain.
A new leader will be named Friday, said Trout, who has been with Acme for 45 years and has been its president since 2014. He is the first non-Albrecht family member to be president of the 128-year old Akron-based family business. The chain has 16 grocery stores, two RSVP party supply stores and 2,300 employees.
Trout accidentally let the news slip on a celebrity guest appearance on "The Ray Horner Show" on WAKR (1590-AM) Tuesday morning. Trout said a friend bought him the appearance at an auction.
However, Trout said it has always been the plan with the Albrecht family for him to step aside when he turned 62. He turns 62 in June.
Trout will have a new part-time role with Acme, but he declined to discuss it.
“I’m looking forward to pursuing other things but still staying close to the grocery business and working with Acme,” he said. “I know that this job takes a seven-day commitment. At this point in my career, I’m ready to throttle it back a bit.”
He began his career at age 16 with the former Click 53 in Ellet (the current Acme No. 2) as a packer.
“I had no aspirations of being the president. I was just a high school kid trying to make some money,” Trout said.
But once he graduated from Field High School, he saw that he could stay and get promoted from within. He did not go to college.
“I basically learned the business from the ground up in various positions through the years,” said Trout, who worked in a variety of roles including stocking groceries on the night crew. He worked his way up through management and the corporate staff.
He replaced Steve Albrecht, whose great-grandfather founded the Fred W. Albrecht Grocery store in Akron in 1891. Steve Albrecht remains chairman of the board.
Four members of the fifth generation of Albrechts are actively involved in the business. They are all Steve and wife Sophie's children. Nick is executive vice president and sits in the No. 2 spot next to Trout. Joe is vice president of retail properties for Albrecht Inc., a real-estate development company in which the Albrecht family is a majority owner, Katie Swartz is director of marketing for Acme and Jon is director of center store sales.
The biggest change Trout has seen in his 45-year grocery career is changes from the internet, including “the ability of the consumer to get groceries delivered to their home again and I say again because way back when, Acme delivered groceries by horse and buggy,” Trout said. All Acme stores also offer grocery pickup, he said.
But Trout said there always will be a need for a physical grocery store.
“The product will continue to evolve, but there will always be a local supermarket.”
Acme didn’t just give Trout his career; he met his wife, Debbie, at Click 53, where she was working in the men’s department.
“I asked her to go to the store Christmas party and fell head over heels in love,” Trout said.
The couple have been married 42 years and have two adult children and four grandkids.
Trout said he’s appreciative of the support of his associates and customers.
“I would like to thank the customers for their continued patronage of Acme Fresh Market Stores. We know we have to earn their business every day.”
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher